September 28, 2012

Article: University of Utah Program Helps Refugees with English Literacy Skills


U. of U. partners with ESL center to break down language barriers
Refugees » Utah’s large population of refugees is a catalyst for improvements in how to teach those from other cultures.
By Justina McCandless
September 19, 2012

More than 8,000 refugees were resettled in Utah from 2000 to 2009. They came from 42 countries across the world, including Sudan, Burma and Somalia.

Among those who now call Utah home is Barlin Mohamed, 23, who fled Kenya with her family in 2006 because of civil war.

Refugees such as Mohamed are the reason that the English Skills Learning Center (ESLC) in Salt Lake City has joined with the University of Utah on a research project designed to uncover the best strategies of teaching students known as "adult emergent readers."

Many English learners who visit the ESLC are adult refugees — sometimes in their 60s and 70s — who come from cultures where literacy is not the norm. They’ve often never stepped foot in a classroom and are unfamiliar with the notion of what most Americans deem a "typical" education experience.

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